Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use ScholarSphere?

  • The content in ScholarSphere is open to the public and free for anyone to search and download.
  • To deposit your work in ScholarSphere, you must be a Penn State faculty, student, or staff, with a current Web Access Account ID and password. Penn State emeriti faculty may also use ScholarSphere.

Does it cost anything to upload to ScholarSphere?

  • No, the University provides this service at no cost to current Penn State faculty, students, and staff and to emeriti faculty.

What can I deposit to ScholarSphere?

Can I deposit my scholarly article in ScholarSphere?

  • Whether you can deposit your scholarly article and which version you can deposit depend on the agreement you signed with your publisher prior to publication. The Sherpa Romeo database is a good starting point for figuring out your rights to deposit your article. You can search by journal or publisher name and see a summary of the journal's default rules related to "self-archiving" (the author's posting of the article online). Sherpa Romeo also provides links to the publisher's webpages about self-archiving, so you can double-check the summary to ensure it is up-to-date.
  • If you have a copy of your publishing contract, it's also good to look at that. Your contract sets a minimum for what you can do. Many publishers have set policies giving authors additional rights to self-archive their articles.
  • When looking at Sherpa Romeo, agreements, and publisher policies, pay close attention to two distinctions: the article version in question and the archiving or deposit location being described. Your rights to self-archive your work often vary depending on both of these. Timing is also important. For example, you might be allowed to post a post-print on your personal website from the time of acceptance but not be allowed to post a post-print on an institutional repository until 12 months after publication. For-profit article sharing sites, such as ResearchGate or, may be subject to longer embargoes or banned entirely.
  • To modify the default terms of your publishing agreement before signing it, consider using an author's addendum. With questions, please contact the Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright.

Can I get a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for my deposited work?

  • Yes, you can assign a new DOI to your deposited work through the ‘Work Settings” page. You cannot assign a DOI to a draft work.

How can I update or remove my work?

  • In ScholarSphere, your work exists as a series of “versions”. You may update and delete the draft version of the work. Once a version is published, it cannot be modified or deleted. You can, however, create a new version that supersedes the previous version. Old versions remain accessible unless they are withdrawn or deleted by repository managers.
  • If you need to withdraw or delete a work version, please contact us using the Contact Form.

What happens to my files in ScholarSphere after I leave Penn State?

  • The files remain in ScholarSphere and continue to be discoverable, accessible, and citable. If you have any questions or concerns about your files after you have left Penn State, you may submit them via our Contact Form.

Are materials deposited to ScholarSphere kept forever?

  • Deposited files and metadata are generally retained for the lifetime of the repository, however the guaranteed minimum preservation timeframe for work deposited to ScholarSphere is ten years. After that period, the Libraries may remove content that does not warrant continued preservation. For more, see ScholarSphere’s Preservation Policy.

Are there limits to how much I can deposit to ScholarSphere?

  • There are no defined limits on file sizes, however uploading large files (larger than a few gigabytes) can be error prone, depending on your internet connection.
  • Deposits larger than 100 GB in size require approval from repository managers in Penn State Libraries. This limit applies to the total size of files in a work or in a collection of related works by the same depositor. For more, see ScholarSphere’s Content and Deposit Policy.
  • To receive approval for depositing large datasets, contact us.

How can I deposit very large datasets that are too large to upload through the web browser?

What's the difference between ScholarSphere and cloud services like Dropbox?

  • Reliability: ScholarSphere is a Penn State service that is fully funded and supported by the University Libraries and Information Technology Services. That is, the two most reputable organizations at Penn State responsible for knowledge management and information security and organization oversee the service and the infrastructure supporting it, to make persistently accessible the content that is deposited into ScholarSphere.
  • Preservation: Our main focus is to preserve your scholarly work and make it accessible for the long term. Files deposited into ScholarSphere undergo audits and other digital preservation checks. This helps ensure that your scholarship will be available for generations to come. Dropbox and Box, on the other hand, are primarily file-sharing and file-storage services, rather than digital repository services implementing digital preservation best practices.
  • Sharing scholarship for public access: ScholarSphere collects scholarly and scientific research outputs primarily for public access to them, largely in accordance with Open Access principles and in compliance with funding agency data management planning requirements. As commercial services focused mainly on file sharing and file storage, Dropbox and Box are open to a variety of content and not really intended for making content accessible and searchable via the web.